Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia–based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. He regularly files stories for NPR News. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin was a freelance general assignment reporter at KING–TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. He also worked as a freelance education reporter for KPLU–FM, the Tacoma–based NPR station. Austin spent 2001 in Washington, D.C. as a Knight Foundation/American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. Austin has also worked as a television reporter in Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; and Bozeman, Montana. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and has a B.A. in Government from Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Over the years Austin has won numerous professional awards for his reporting. He lives in Olympia with his wife Jennifer Huntley and their two children.

Read Austin's blog, "The Washington Ledge: Dispatches From Olympia."

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Economic Predictions
4:34 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Wash. Lawmakers Get Slightly Brighter Revenue Forecast

Washington State Capitol Building Olympia, Wash.
Photo credit: Wikimedia User Georgejo2034 Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Slightly up. That’s the upshot of Thursday’s Washington revenue forecast. This is the quarterly report that tells budget writers how much money they have to work with. Steve Lerch is Washington’s interim economic forecaster. He told a panel of lawmakers they can expect $96 million more than they expected to balance the budget. Lerch said Washington’s recovery continues, but it’s slow.

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Balancing The Budget
5:51 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Wash. Democrats May Find Path To Avoid Sales Tax Measure

If Washington's new revenue forecast is positive, the state may avoid the governor’s proposal to ask voters to approve a half-penny sales tax hike.
Photo credit: Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

BalaOLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington legislature are suddenly hopeful they can rebalance the state budget without asking voters to approve a tax hike. Their optimism comes even before they see the latest revenue forecast out Thursday.

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Education and Teaching
6:23 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Wash. Senate Passes New Teacher Evaluation System

Wash. Gov Chris Gregoire with Democratic Sen. Kevin Ranker following the teacher evaluation vote. Gregoire helped broker a compromise on the bill.
Photo by Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington state senate has approved a new four-tier teacher evaluation system. The bill that passed Tuesday also creates a mechanism for firing under-performing teachers who don’t improve.

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same-sex marriage bill signed
6:20 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Wash. Governor Signs Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire after signing legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In the words of one gay couple: it’s a “pre-Valentine’s Day” gift. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire today signed into law a measure to give same-sex couples the right to marry. The packed and emotional bill-signing took place in a ceremonial room at the statehouse.

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Washington Gay Rights
5:09 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Wash. Senator Says Tenor Of Gay Rights Debates Has Evolved

Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle.
Photo courtesy Wash. Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gay rights supporters will gather Monday in an ornate reception room in the Washington state capitol. They will witness history as Governor Chris Gregoire signs into law legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins looks at how the rhetoric that led to this controversial moment has changed.

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Washington Charter Schools
4:55 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Charter School Backers Still Want Vote in Wash. Legislature

Dome of the Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia.
Photo by Wikimedia User Jay8g Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. – 41 states allow charter schools. But not Washington . Opponents in the legislature recently killed a bipartisan proposal to allow a limited number of under-performing schools to convert. But supporter of the idea haven’t given up. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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WA politicians focus on taxes
5:54 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

Wash. Legislature: With Gay Marriage Passed, It’s Back To Budget And Taxes

The Washington State Capitol building in Olympia.
Photo by Wikimedia User Visitor7 Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Now that gay marriage has passed, it’s back to the budget and taxes for Washington lawmakers. The 60-day session is more than halfway over. Next week will bring the February revenue forecast. Then majority Democrats plan to roll out a budget and possible tax hikes.

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Gay Marriage Reaction
5:14 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Both Sides Of Gay Marriage Debate React To Wash. House Vote

Washington State Capital
Photo by: Wikuservisitor7 Wikimedia

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gay marriage supporters are thrilled. Opponents are gearing up for a ballot fight. That’s the dynamic after the Washington House voted Wednesday to send a same-sex marriage bill to the governor. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins watched the historic vote from the House galleries and has reaction.

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Gay Marriage Opponents Prepare
4:36 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

National Organization Prepares For Gay Marriage Ballot Repeal Effort In Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gay marriage isn’t the law in Washington yet. But national opponents are already preparing for a repeal campaign. The Washington House Wednesday is expected to send a same-sex marriage measure to the governor for her signature.

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Washington Gay Adoption
5:48 am
Wed February 8, 2012

Anti-Gay Discrimination Hard To Prove In Foster Care Arena

David Wing-Kovarik is a gay adoptive father who runs a non-profit for families like his.
Photo by Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Wednesday, the Washington state House is expected to send a gay marriage bill to the governor. The final measure will likely contain some special language to address a concern raised by faith-based foster and adoption agencies. These state contractors don’t want to be forced to place children with gay couples. But Washington law already prohibits them from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. So how does that work now? As Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins found out, it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

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